WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - She was supposed to be preparing for his homecoming, but now a mother is making funeral preparations for her son who died at the Palm Beach Regional Juvenile Detention Center.
The family of 18-year-old Eric Perez says he was a troubled teen, but was beginning to turn his life around. Now suddenly that life is over, just as he was set to be released from juvenile detention.
"What happened to my son, that's what I want to know," says Maritza Perez, the boy's mother.
"It hurts, it hurts, I mean I can't really explain it," says Carlos Perez, a family member.
Maritza Perez says her son, Eric, had just celebrated his 18th birthday and Monday he was found dead in his cell.
"At first when I found out I wanted to go with him. I'm not going to lie, I wanted to kill myself but I have 3 more kids," says Maritza Perez.
Perez says detectives told her that her son had breathing problems and that other officials indicated he died of a "sudden illness."
"He had no asthma, no trouble breathing. This the first time I hear of this," she says.
Family members suspect something else went wrong. They don't know what, but they are seeking the truth.
"They told me Eric had an enlarged heart and he had bleeding in his brain," says his aunt. "I just don't understand how a 17-year-old goes to sleep and wakes up dead."
"You could expect that from an elderly [person], but not a healthy 17-year-old. It's something more to the story than they're saying," says David Perez.
Perez's mother says she spoke with her son just hours before he was found dead, and he was excited about going into a Job Corps. program; a program he said would change his life.
"He wanted to go there he wanted to work he just wanted to change his life," recalls Maritza.
She says the family won't rest until they are satisfied all their questions have been answered.
"The money is not going to bring my son back I just want them to pay for what they did," Maritza said.
An investigation has been launched into how the teen died.
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